Have you ever wondered where creativity comes from? Are we born with it? Are we taught it? Most of us will have experienced wonderful teaching at some point in our lives, either first-hand through a relative or a workshop, or perhaps from a digital masterclass, vlogger or keen crafter.

Sometimes, though, you are stopped in your tracks by work which has clearly been inspired by a spectacular creative environment. At the Knitting and Stitching Show in London we came across one such environment and the spirit behind it: Alison Rhodes, Director of Art at King’s Ely in Cambridgeshire, UK. The award-winning department has specialist areas for Fashion and Textiles, Fine Art, Sculpture and Photography.

Designed by Jenna Richards.

How do you inspire the students to create such wonderful work?

The formal assignments allow our students to explore their personal photographs, observational studies and design-based work in an individual manner that encourages creativity. The atmosphere is lively and stimulating and students are encouraged to take ownership of their workspace.

Have you worked in Fashion and Textiles yourself?

I have an MA from the Royal College of Art and worked in industry for many years. My customers included Harrods and Liberty, Barneys New York and Tokyo, Shinsegae in South Korea and commissions for designers such as Bruce Oldfield.

Development work by Aeyesha Cundy.

There is so much excellent work coming out of the school – tell us about a few of your favourites.

We are developing lots of sculptural textiles where digital transfer techniques are used fully within the garment designs, alongside machine embroidery and layering effects.

Could you give us a taste of exciting student news to date…?

Students have thoroughly enjoyed workshops with the designers José Hendo and Lauren Martin and in the summer one will be doing a placement with Bruce Oldfield. Also, we stage regular internal exhibitions showcasing the passion and innovation of all students. We’ve had Fashion Design displays at ExCeL, Alexandra Palace and Olympia in London, while our Fashion, Fine Art and Photography students have had shows at the Apex Gallery in Bury St Edmunds and historic Ely Cathedral.

Designed by Anna Pearce.

At the Babylon Gallery in Ely we exhibited all specialisms with 200 schoolchildren, forging close links with our local community. And last year, the photography competition Beyond the Frame – Environment, run by Norwich University of the Arts, was won by one of our A Level Photography students. And an Old Elean has started her career in Milan designing for Versace! It’s all about enabling them to achieve their full potential…

How true! The Crea team will be watching this space – or rather these very many, multi-faceted spaces!